The reward of a longer wait for the festival season this year is the coldest Kali Puja and Diwali night in Calcutta in several years.
The minimum temperature on Tuesday is likely to be around 18 degrees Celsius, as it has been over the past few days with the night air having a hint of cold without being chilly. Interior designer Sonali Sarkar won’t have it any other way, although the projected night temperature would require her to wrap a muffler around five-year-old son Rethh’s neck against his will.
“Isn’t this fantastic? I can’t recall the last time the city celebrated the festival of lights — and Durga Puja a few weeks earlier — in such pleasant weather,” the resident of Dum Dum Park told Metro. “We generally start celebrating a little late, around 9pm, and by that time it does become a little cold outside.”
The Kali Puja rituals will start around 10pm in most homes and pandals and continue till 2.30am, at which time 24 hours ago the Celsius reading was around 20 degrees in Alipore and a couple of notches lower on the outskirts.
Just before dawn, the Alipore temperature dropped to 18.7 degrees Celsius, which is three degrees below normal.
Madhumita Roy, 57, who walks to Belur Math from her Dunlop home almost every morning, said she had already brought out some warm clothes.
According to Met records, the average minimum temperature on Kali Puja in the last five years is 22.4 degrees Celsius, more than four notches above this year’s projected reading.
In 2009, when Kali Puja fell on October 17, the minimum temperature was 25.2 degrees Celsius.
The average maximum temperature on Kali Puja since 2007 is 31.3 degrees Celsius, considerably higher than the maximum of 29 degrees Celsius that the weatherman expects Calcutta to record on Tuesday.
So is this the harbinger of an early winter for Calcutta, where the season normally starts around December 15?
“The hint of cold at night and early morning will stay for now. Winter has arrived a little earlier than usual in many parts of the state such as the Dooars and Terai regions of north Bengal and Jungle Mahal. But in Calcutta, temperatures might rise again before winter sets in,” said Gokul Chandra Debnath, the director of the regional meteorological centre in Alipore.
The current weather is what the city usually experiences in the last week of November.“There is usually some weather system or the other like a cyclonic circulation or a depression over the coastal areas of Bay of Bengal around this time. This leads to clouding and the flow of the cold and dry northwesterly winds is restricted. But with no such system in place this season, the wind is flowing in freely,” a weather scientist said.
The good news is that although the Celsius might go up again, there is no indication as of now that the city will be denied the start of its much-loved (and short-lived) winter at the usual time.
That would be reason enough for many to burst an extra firecracker on Diwali night.